Police investigating several business break-ins in La Jolla

Beard Papa's pastry shop in La Jolla was burglarized last month.
Beard Papa’s pastry shop in La Jolla was burglarized last month.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

Police believe at least three cases are the work of the same burglars.


San Diego police are investigating a series of recent commercial burglaries in La Jolla and whether they may be connected. In several of the cases, thieves targeted cash registers and safes inside the businesses after hours.

In recent weeks, two businesses in the 1200 block of Prospect Street and one on Fay Avenue were targeted by what police believe are the same burglars.

“Their close proximity and the video evidence of the two suspects involved lead us to believe they are the suspects for all three of these,” said police Lt. Paul Phillips. “They were able to cut open the safes at both Prospect locations and take the contents. There was no safe at the Fay location. We are waiting for results from our lab to see if this will help identify the suspects involved.”

In those and other recent burglaries, thieves used a pry bar to open both front and rear doors, Phillips said.

In one case at Beard Papa’s pastry shop at 7874 Girard Ave., someone broke the business’s lockbox outside the door, took the keys and used them to open the store at about 5 a.m. Feb. 20, manager Natalie Nguyen said.

“He ran straight for the register and then booked it,” getting away with around $900, she said.

She had no descriptive information about the burglar other than that he was “in his late 20s.”

“We had to close the store for two days because we couldn’t even open the front door,” Nguyen said. “Employees have personal keys now, so hopefully it won’t happen again. I haven’t seen anyone around since.”

Flower Pot Cafe and Bakery on Fay Avenue was burglarized recently as part of a recent series of similar crimes in La Jolla.
Flower Pot Cafe and Bakery on Fay Avenue was burglarized recently as part of a recent series of similar crimes in La Jolla.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

Flower Pot Cafe and Bakery at 7530 Fay Ave. also was burglarized during non-business hours. The culprits got away with an undisclosed amount of cash, but “the good news is, they didn’t break anything and it could have been worse,” said co-owner Amanda Morrow.

“They got in and did a little looting and were in and out pretty fast. It’s never a good feeling, but I try to look on the bright side, and it could have been worse.”

Another case was reported in the 7900 block of Herschel Avenue, where someone targeted the cash register and urinated at the site, Phillips said.

Jewelry was taken at a location that was not given. Police are working to confirm whether that burglary was related to the others.

Though the thieves are still being sought, detectives have identified a vehicle possibly used to escape: “a gray SUV with large silver rims, possibly an Infiniti,” Phillips said.

Police Lt. Bryan Brecht told the La Jolla Town Council on March 9 that “we have been increasing our patrols, and our investigators have developed some pretty good leads on possible suspects. So we’re hoping to bring that series to an end.”

As part of the investigation, patrol officers are being given updates about the crimes to make sure they spend as much time as possible checking the areas where the burglaries are happening, police said.

Phillips said businesses can protect themselves by:

• Leaving as little cash as possible in the registers and elsewhere in the business

• Concealing the safe as well as possible

• Installing or adding video cameras

• Having onsite security

“Doing anything to make a forced entry difficult is an advantage,” he said.

Representatives of the La Jolla Village Merchants Association told the La Jolla Light that they had not been notified of the recent break-ins. However, when a similar rash of thefts took place at the end of 2021 and beginning of 2022, the board updated its strategic plan to add a safety and security component so it can discuss ways to make merchants safer.

The group also pledged to work with the San Diego Police Department to improve communication among businesses to help catch and deter burglars.

— La Jolla Light staff writer Elisabeth Frausto contributed to this report.